"Olshan’s devastatingly beautiful novel is more than a powerful critique of the senselessness of war. Marshlands is a gripping story about the dangers of idealism, the bonds that can form across cultures, and the complicated nature of betrayal . . . Marshlands
is a searing and evocative book that establishes Olshan as a writer to follow, and articulates the value of compassion and ethics amidst the murky landscape of war."—Laura Eggertson, The Toronto Star
"Powerful." —Booklist (Starred Review)
"I am haunted by this book. . . .Olshan’s prose, so spare and unsentimental, and the book’s fraught political atmosphere, so coolly rendered, are remarkably reminiscent of J.M. Coetzee’s work, as is the strange, almost fairy-tale quality of a story at once so specific in its details and so general in its detachment from any particular time or place . . . That is the brilliance of Olshan, and of this book—to make what is so familiar foreign, and in the strangeness allow us to feel as if from afar what it is to be ourselves." —Ellen Akins, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"An eerie, dreamlike atmosphere pervades this novel of struggle and oppression . . . Strange, otherworldly, and somewhat sinister." —Kirkus
is a first novel of considerable maturity: powerful, original, cunningly constructed and timely." —Julian Barnes
is a Waiting for the Barbarians
for our tech exhausted age, a post millennial boom-bust Kafka. Matthew Olshan spins a tale around one devastating truth: the real nightmare begins when you finally wake up." —Marlon James
"Much in the manner of Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K,
Matthew Olshan’s Marshlands
holds a fantastic mirror to the war-torn world we live in. This novel is a rich and troubling experience." —Madison Smartt Bell
"If Kafka, Hemingway and Teju Cole happened to collaborate, the result might be something like Matthew Olshan’s Marshlands
. This is an important book that splices a number of literary traditions and is told in a formally adventurous manner. But more important than all that, it gets you in the gut, line by line, page by page." —Giles Foden
Grappling with a Timeless Problem | Work in Progress
The early drafts of Marshlands read like a classical tragedy: Gus, a well-intentioned military doctor, is deployed to a war zone where his allegiance to his own empire is tested by a deep affinity for the tribal people he finds there. Torn between the conflicting demands of duty and conscience, he makes a choice that proves to be his undoing.
- FSG's Work in Progress
“Read. Then we’ll talk.” | Book Keeping
This was not like my grandmother’s other books, classics that felt far removed from my life. Coetzee’s allegory of empire was immediate and timely. It drilled right through my defenses, elevating and shattering me at the same time.
- FSG Book Keeping
Excerpt: Marshlands | Book Keeping
Early on, he kept a journal, but there was nowhere to hide the paper scraps. They disinfected his cell once a week. He returned from the yard to find every crevice blasted clean, the floor puddled with bleach...
- FSG's Book Keeping